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9 Ways to Take Your CTAs to the Next Level

January 30, 2017
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Conversion rate optimization is one of the best ways to improve upon the amount of sign ups, purchases, and revenue. Sounds great, right? There are many elements of your website you can test to improve your conversion rate and figuring out where to start can to be tricky.

A number of factors can affect your conversion rate ranging from the quality of your traffic to how strong your CTAs and conversion strategies are. One key factor on any page is bound to be your call to action. Fundamentally, a call to action can be defined as a button or line of text that prompts users to take action.

If you have an e-commerce site there is truly nothing more important than your conversion rate. However, one thing to remember is that not every call to action is going to ask a user to make that final conversion. There are plenty of smaller CTAs on your site such as signing up for an email list or viewing different pricing and plans that can be optimized to draw in more users and motivate them to take that next step. It’s important to consider all of these and how you best optimize every single page and call to action on your site.

So where do you begin? Some people believe there are general rules you can apply to all CTAs no matter what industry you work in. At Power Digital we rely on best practices when building out our initial CTAs but believe testing is the only way to really know just how high you can get that conversion rate.

When it comes to crafting and testing CTAs it’s important to remember the following:

Be Specific

Users are more inclined to take action when you get specific and remind them exactly what step they are taking. Instead of using generic CTAs such as “sign up,” “download” or “get started” get super specific to help users visual taking that next step and make things more tangible. For example, instead of having the same email sign up on each page you can cater the CTA to match the content of that page.

Related: Basic CRO – Page Elements & Testing Opportunities

If your page is about Paleo recipes you can cater your call to action to match the user’s interest and entice them to sign up to “Stay in the Loop on All Things Paleo.” From there you can add them into a segmented Paleo list that provides them with the most relevant content possible from the get go. This kind of segmentation makes it easier to not only engage your prospect but also present them with the most relevant offers and products. Therein lies the power being specific.

In addition to being specific, this CTA also reduces some of the uncertainty around how quickly a user can get started. No one like to begin a sign-up or check out process only to find they need to know your mother’s maiden name and the street you grew up on. I jest, but in all seriousness there is something to be said about keeping your sign-up short and sweet–and letting people know it.

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Keep It Short And Sweet

While you want to be specific there is no need to make your CTA too complex or lengthy. While it can be tempting to jazz up your CTAs with colorful language it’s really best to keep things simple. Be direct and try to optimize your messaging to lead to more clicks and conversions.

T-Mobile’s headline says it all “taxes and fees included” when you put your key USP into your headline messaging you can keep your CTA short and sweet. Additionally their CTA includes one key USP – unlimited calls, texts and data. This is a huge pain point for many phone users who have faced countless fees for going over on their data. In this case, nothing is more important than the word “unlimited.” Note their CTA is also action inspired leading with a verb and getting straight to the point.

Inspire Action

In keeping your CTAs action oriented you will be more likely to see results. Leading with a verb inspires users to take action and make the move toward that next step. Instead of using the CTA “Free Ebook” opt for “Download Your Free Ebook.” This psychologically puts the user right where you want them and has been proven to increase conversion rates.

This CTA is both specific and action oriented. Instead of simply making the CTA “Free Webinar” you can present the more actionable “Reserve Your Spot” to inspire users to sign up. The language used also implies a sense of exclusivity and urgency.

Know Your Audience

When you have a good understanding of your target audience it’s much easier to craft a CTA that will get great results. Don’t be afraid to customize your CTAs and play to your target audience and the type of language that resonates with them. If you’ve developed a funnel or landing page for a specific segment of your audience every detail of the page should speak to them. Knowing their pain points and catering your offers and CTAs to them is absolutely essential.

Related: Top Practices in UI/UX Design

This is where the fun begins. When you understand your different personas and what motivates them you can test messaging that appeals to their pain points and desires. If you’re still narrowing down your audience or getting a feel for what truly resonates with them messaging and CTAs are a great way to sort things out. Of course, you’ll want your overall page copy and CTAs to play off of each other psychologically so you’ll likely be running a number of tests.

Huge advocates of the power of personas the folks at Hubspot are masters of tying CTAs and content back down to their content. This CTA was used at the end of an article entitled, Lead Generation: A Beginner’s Guide to Generating Business Leads the Inbound Way. The more relevant your CTA and offer is the more likely you are to see visitor clicking through. Plus, the sooner you can segment your users by their interest the sooner you can make them an offer they just can’t refuse.


Try Out First Person

Sometime changing one simple word in a CTA can make a world of a difference. Sometimes that word is “your” vs. “my.” Changing your CTA from “Download Your Copy” to “Download My Copy” could be just what you need to ramp up your conversion rate. This plays to the individual and gives them a sense of ownership over their conversion path.

Coverage Book’s CTA is the perfect example of personalizing your CTA through the use of first person language. Building out a personal example book is a great way to show the user immediate value- instead of having them download a template they can start building their own book and get a feel for the platform. Combined with the action-oriented “build” this CTA is spot on.

Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Color

While it can be tempting to always stick to your branding it’s important to remember that colors have proven to affect conversion rates. Many studies have shown that green and orange perform best. If you simply aren’t willing to test those then a great place to start is with contrasting button colors.

Apart from just contrasting color you can also consider color psychology and the emotions certain colors tend to elicit. While yellow tends to elicit optimism red is more bold and exciting. The question, what will work best? The answer, it depends. If you are going to play off of color psychology it’s important to tie this into the overall psychology of your page. Are you leveraging a pain vs. gain strategy or hope vs. fear? Bring these all together and you’ve got a recipe for success.

The folks at Optinmonster will tell you there is no truly “perfect” color. You of course want something that will pop but there no one color that every website should use. Our advice, always be testing. You may find certain colors resonate with different segments of your audience that are comfortable with a more aggressive color while other prefer something that looks more “on brand.”

Sense Of Urgency

Sometimes all you need to drive up that conversion rate is a strong sense of urgency. Whether there is limited time pricing or restricted sign up window you can take advantage of a limited timeline. The same philosophy applies to sales and promo codes. If you give someone two weeks to make their decision vs. two days you risk losing their attention. Having a timer counting down the days, hours, minutes, and even seconds, can be just what users need to take the next step.

A live countdown in a great way to increase your user’s sense of urgency. Whether the countdown is actually live or starts at a set time each time a user hits your page. The more specific you get the better. This is much more powerful than simply telling people your offer is available for a “limited time only.” Beyond that you can test different times to see which timeline will evoke action and not overwhelm the user, or worse decrease the sense of urgency. Finding that perfect countdown can create just the right amount of urgency and lead to an increase in conversions.

Emphasize Your USP

What’s so special about your product or offer? Is it free? Does it include exclusive information or products? Whatever makes your offer stand out a CTA is the perfect place to showcase it. Never let an opportunity to remind your user of what makes your offer special.

This examples offers up two key selling propositions; one that you can try Freshbooks for free and the second for a full 30 days is a great way to encourage your users to click through and get started. When it comes to trying to get users to quickly convert nothing is better than eliminating the risk associated converting.

Always Be Testing

At the end of the day while there are best practices for CTAs the key here is to always be testing to see if you can implement small tweaks that make a large impact. As with any A/B test it’s always important to isolate your variable so you can be sure of just how much of an impact your CTA test is making.

A/B split testing is a great way to continue to optimize your landing pages. How long your test will take will depend on how much traffic your site receives. If you are consistently driving traffic to your landing page you shouldn’t have a problem. However, if you are testing a less trafficked page on your site it can take time to accumulate the correct number of users to determine a statistically significant winner.

Related: VWO – A Foolproof Tool for Your CRO Needs

At Power Digital we live by this motto and start with best practices and then always work to make sure that we are optimizing each and every aspect of our client’s websites and marketing campaigns. Without ongoing testing of your CTA buttons you leave countless opportunities on the table.

Of course, it is extremely important to remember beyond testing your CTAs there are a number of elements you can test such as the content, design and layout of each page. We are big advocates of running as many educated tests as possible. Our team starts with best practices, like the ones shared above, and then develops well thought out tests. With the right design and marketing principles in place we have seen a lot of success in increasing user engagement and the overall conversion rate.

Now that you’ve learned 9 key best practices for CTAs it is time to get testing! Are you currently running any tests to improve your conversion rate? Share your favorite tactics and strategies in the comments below!

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